Photography project documents lockdown experiences in Preston

A Preston photographer has produced a series of portraits of people in the city living with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

By James Holt
Monday, 29th June 2020, 3:45 pm
Glenda Andrew, from Preston, was featured in the project.
Glenda Andrew, from Preston, was featured in the project.

The portraits offer a unique view of how lockdown has affected the city, including stories from a mother who gave birth and a pensioner who lost his wife on the eve of their 60th wedding anniversary.

The pride of Preston shined through with a number of statements from people declaring their love for living in the city.

The 'Proud Preston People' project was funded by the Preston Cultural Framework Board, backed by the Brewtime Collective, Curious Minds, Preston City Council and UCLan – one of 30 micro commissions they have funded during the lockdown.

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Cook said: "Meeting people like Eric, who lost his wife during lockdown, and Victoria, who gave birth during lockdown, was a huge privilege. But I also loved the joy that people expressed of living in Preston, whether they were born here or moved to the city just a few years ago.

"A great example of this is a wonderful woman called Maya, who moved here from Latvia, via Padiham. She has done so much for this city, hosting a weekly writing club and taking part in so many arts events. She is why this city's diversity is so successful.

"And Glenda Andrew, who does so much amazing community work for the Windrush generation and has been delivering meals during lockdown, posed for me so proudly and said 'I love Preston and Preston loves me too'. People like Glenda and Maya are Preston."

During lockdown, Garry Cook, 45, created a ‘Go Fund Me’ campaign to help support the city’s self-employed creatives who are struggling through their most difficult times. The idea came after seeing similar funding campaigns in cities like Manchester and Liverpool to help artists through the lockdown.

Alan Livesley, another participant in Garry's project.

His newest project aims to capture life in lockdown for people across the city who have been impacted differently by the Covid-19 pandemic.

He added: "This was the most unusual set of images I have ever produced - the entire project was conceived and completed under lockdown, observing social distancing guidelines.

"I was able to talk to everyone but this felt like a different way of meeting people. During all the conversations I had there was a niggling feeling that I should not talk too long and get out of their way. It's a sign of how things will be for a long time yet.

"But these encounters and the wonderful things people had to say were a heart-warming - and sometime heart-breaking - experience. It was brilliant to be able to do this project in Preston and I am so thankful to Brewtime Collective and everyone involved for the commission.

"A lot of people in this city do not realise that Preston has an unusually strong photography community. As the city looks to redefine itself culturally, I think photographs and photographers can be hugely influential defining this city's cultural identity.

"I hope this project can be the first of many image-led projects which can boost the profile of the city nationally, and bring the arts to many more of its residents."

Some of the participants spoke candidly of their experience in the country-wide lockdown, including Eric Hastwell, who said: “I lost my wife on the first day of lockdown. It was a huge shock as she had always been so fit and healthy. It was our 60th wedding anniversary that weekend and we should have been having a big family celebration... but she died on the Monday morning.”

Another participant, Glenda Andrew, who fronts the Preston Windrush Campaign group said: "I am a Lancashire lass, Preston born. I love Preston and what I am shown so often is Preston loves me too. Preston got soul. Proud Preston!"

Cook is now hoping to raise funds to exhibit this project in the city.

Find out more at full set of images can be seen here.